The best help sometimes doesn’t look like help

“They just need your witness.”

One of my favorite authors was hosting a webinar over the weekend. At the end of a solid hour he offered up a few moments for Q&A.

The questioner asked some long-winded question about providing support to people directly affected by COVID-19. Support to those who are ill and support to the front line workers who are helping.

The author thought about it for a moment and then prequalified his response. He said, “I don’t think they need your encouragement. I don’t think they need your words.” He wasn’t being flippant. “I think they just need your witness.”

He went on to explain that often the only “help” somebody really wants from us when despair is overtaking doesn’t look like what we think help should look like.

It looks like sitting in the chair beside them. It looks like presence. It looks like listening.

It looks more like being than doing.

The concept is universal. Sometimes the best encouragement we can provide to our team is continuing to show up for them each day. Sometimes the best leadership advice is to stop doing and to start being.

The real business of leaders is changing lives. This is a people business. It takes patience and practice. And why? Because we need you now more than ever before.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on April 13, 2020

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